I’m sorry, I’ve read this quote a dozen times and I still don’t understand it. And I’m a dirty rotten liberal so I should be receptive to this argument. One of the reasons I’ve been excited to start working in the public library world is because part of our mission to specifically seek out and help the “less fortunate” Balis refers to. (Which, just to say, my library is pretty close to Greenwich and I assure you, we have many “less fortunate” patrons alongside our “wealthy residents.” All libraries have a variety of patrons. Including Greenwich.)
The people we serve also includes the rich. Are wealthy people not supposed to have access to “nice, free books” at the library? I feel like libraries have been lending them free print books for years. In fact, I know they have. Probably because they are residents who are allowed to use the library just like everybody else and who are allowed to ask their library for material they’re interested in. And, in fact, their continued interest in the library is important, as wealthy patrons tend to contribute more in taxes and are more likely to be donors. So it’s not a bad thing to want to serve their needs and keep them invested in the library. It actually seems pretty crucial from a financial standpoint.
AND I take issue with the assumption that the “less fortunate” aren’t interested in borrowing and reading ebooks, because it has been my limited experience that this is not necessarily true.
AND we don’t even have to have to choose between the two anyway, because this is a false dichotomy that helps absolutely no one. I agree that it is important for librarians to be mindful of balancing needs of different patron groups when making buying and programming decisions, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of librarians aren’t already being mindful to the hilt about this, especially when it comes to issues with access to technology.
I need another muffin.